Late Antique Religions et Societies (LAReS) is a long-standing group that has been sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities since 1994. We are a group organized and run by graduate students that has established the UC Berkeley campus as a consistent nexus for inter- disciplinary scholarship on the Late Antique period (approximately 3rd to 8th centuries A.D.). We regularly draw attendance not only from Northern California campuses, but use co-sponsorship from a number of UC Berkeley departments to reach across the state, nation, and world through conferences and guest lectures. Our mailing list is a regular source of information for scholars not only on the West Coast but around the Pacific Rim.
In the past three years, our workshops and conferences have centered on the city as a cultural- religious concept, political node, and hub of economic integration and exchange in the Roman Empire. In the next three years, we want to expand our focus outward, from the city, to investigate larger connective structures: trans-imperial markets; military movements; communication networks; religious economies; multi-lingual communities; and ideological exchange patterns. Within this overarching framework, we will focus – in keeping with recent historiographic moves – on localized voices. Some voice dissent, others formulate assimilation, yet others will be major actors (such as emperors), but all will be integrated into the large scale structures mentioned above.
This outward shift will allow us to re-integrate those studies that focus on localized or isolated acts of self-definition against the dominant environment. Here, the interpretive potential of violence has been paramount. However, “violence,” by definition, foregrounds disintegration. As Tom Sizgorich recently noted, particular instances of such violence, though permitting glimpses into individuals’ and groups’ self-definition, still require a broader interpretative framework to transcend their particularity; eventually attention must be paid to the fabric they seek to rend.
Primary Coordinator: Susanna Elm (email@example.com)
Secondary Coordinator: Eli Weaverdyck (firstname.lastname@example.org)